Food Science Terms - M

Macronutrient: required in large amounts in the diet; main types are proteins, carbohydrates and lipids

Mad Cow Disease: - See BSE (Bovine spongiform encephalopathy). 

Magnetic flux density: Force that an electromagnetic source exerts on charged particles. Magnetic flux density is measured in Tesla (1 Tesla =104 gauss). 

Magnetron: Physical component of a microwave system that generates the microwaves. 

Maillard reaction: chemical reaction between amino acids and a reducing sugar, which creates color and flavor compounds

Maintenance area: Space provided for holding and disposing of refuse and for washing equipment that is used for this purpose. 

Malnutrition: condition of having excessive nutrient or lack of nutrient or wrong proportion of nutrients

Malt extract: Thick syrup or powder made from malted barley. The extract is created by mashing the barley and converting the carbohydrates to sugars. 

Malted barley: Barley grain that has undergone the malting process -- immersion in water and sprouting. A key ingredient in premium craft, imported and homemade beers. 

Malting: "Melting" grain. It is the process of soaking grain in water and heating, to allow germination and enzymes to develop. This in turn softens the grain allowing it to germinate or sprout. 

Maltose: small sugar produced when starch breaks down; found in beer and malted products such as milkshakes

MAP (Modified atmosphere packaging): Methods that will help to maintain the quality of a food product by changing the atmosphere inside its retail package. For example, reduce the availability of oxygen or manipulate the levels of carbon dioxide. It produces a gas mix to maximize shelf life. 

Margarine: Plastic or liquid emulsion containing a minimum of 80% fat. The liquid portion consists of water and/or milk products. Vitamin A must also be added. Additional ingredients may include salt, color, additives, emulsifiers and preservatives. 

Mashing: Process of crushing malted grains and extracting fermentable sugars for use in the brewing process. 

Mastication: process of chewing foods 

Medium Fat Cocoa: Cocoa powder containing between 10 and 22% cocoa butter. 

Melanoidins: brown, high molecular weight heterogeneous polymers formed when sugars and amino acids combine (Maillard reaction) at high temperatures and low water activity

Melting point: temperature at which a compound transitions from a solid to a liquid

Mesophile: Microorganisms that grow best at moderate temperatures, with optimum growth at 77°-113°F (25°-45°C). 

Metabolism: Complex biochemical processes by which the body generates energy from food, manufactures substances that it needs, and breaks down substances in food into simpler components. 

Methionine: Essential amino acid; furnishes (to organism) both labile methyl groups and sulfur necessary for normal metabolism. 

Methyl cellulose: Number of gummy substances, produced through reaction between cellulose and methyls. It is found in fruit butters and jellies and serves to keep these products from separating. 

Micelle: structure of a food molecule arranged in a spherical form

Micronutrients: required nutrients that the body needs in small amounts. Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients. 

Microorganisms: Independent organisms of microscopic size, including bacteria, yeast and mold. When alive in a suitable environment, they grow rapidly and may divide or reproduce every 10 to 30 minutes. Therefore, they reach high populations very quickly. Undesirable microorganisms cause disease and food spoilage. Microorganisms are sometimes intentionally added to ferment foods, make antibiotics and for other reasons. 

Microscopic ordering principle: At constant temperature, an increase in pressure increases the degree of ordering of the molecules of a substance. 

Microwaves: Electromagnetic waves at frequencies 915, 2450, 5800, and 24225 MHz. 

Milk Chocolate: Chocolate with at least 10% chocolate liquor and 12% milk solids, combined with sugar, cocoa butter, and vanilla. 

Minerals: Inorganic substances such as iron, calcium, and potassium. Many minerals are essential nutrients. 

Minimum weight: All packages have a fill-weight equal to system or greater than that shown on the label. 

Moisture and Volatile Matter: Weight loss of a fat or food material after heating for a prescribed time under controlled conditions. The weight loss is accounted for by the loss of water and other materials which escape in the vapor state. 

Moisture/Protein Ratio (MPR): Percent moisture of a product divided by the percent protein of a product. Most often used in meat product analysis to determine product safety and shelf-stability. 

Molasses: When the juices extracted from sugar cane or sugar beet are boiled down to a lower volume, the removal of water facilitates the separation of sugar in crystalline form. When this process of sugar crystallization has reached its limit, and the sugar crystals are removed, the remaining dark brown thick syrup is known as molasses. Beet molasses is used mainly as animal feed, or it can be fermented to produce alcohol. Cane molasses can also be used to produce alcohol, and since it has quite a pleasant taste, golden syrup and treacle and a range of brown sugars. 

Molinillo: Wooden stick with rings attached to bottom; used to whip chocolate drink to create cap of foam on top. 

Mollusc: invertebrate with a soft body, often covered with a shell (eg mussels, squid)

Mold: Group of multi-cellular fungi which grow in thread-like strands called hyphae. A fungus-type microorganism whose growth on food is usually visible and colorful. Molds may grow on many foods, including acid foods like jams and jellies and canned fruits. They usually are not a cause of food borne illness, but in the right environment, cause food spoilage. Recommended heat processing and sealing practices prevent their growth on these foods. Some are introduced into foods to give added flavor, e.g. in some cheeses.

Monitoring: Tracking actual performance versus planned. 

Monoglycerides: Chemical compound formed by a combination of one fatty acid unit with one glycerine unit. The addition of monoglycerides to an oil or shortening tends to lower the smoke point of the oil. 

Monosaccharides: single sugar unit carbohydrate that cannot be split into smaller units by the action of dilute acids. The largest group of monosaccharides are the hexoses with six carbon atoms in the molecule (e.g glucose, fructose, mannose, galactose). Other monosaccharide categories are the heptoses with seven carbon atoms (e.g. xylose), the pentoses with five carbon atoms, and tetroses with four carbon atoms. 

Monosaccharide: (eg glucose, galactose, fructose), formed by condensation of disaccharides with water added

Monosodium glutamate (MSG): white, odorless, crystalline powder with good water solubility. Functions as flavor enhancer with an umami taste which can intensify the meaty, savory flavor of food

Monosodium glutamate (MSG): Sodium salt of glutamic acid. Glutamic acid, or glutamate, is one of the most common amino acids found in nature. (see glutamate). In the early part of the century, MSG was extracted from seaweed and other plant sources. Today, MSG is produced in many countries around the world through a fermentation process of molasses from sugar cane or sugar beets, as well as starch and corn sugar. 

Moulding: Process of passing dough through a moulding machine prior to filling into baking tins. A similar process is used in confectionary production. 

Mouthfeel: the way food and drink are felt in the mouth other than tastes

Mycotoxins: Toxins Toxins produced by fungi. More than 350 different mycotoxins are known to man. Almost all mycotoxins possess the capacity to harmfully alter the immune systems of animals. Consumption by humans and animals of certain mycotoxins (e.g., via eating infected corn, nuts, peanuts cottonseed products, etc.) can result in liver toxicity, gastrointestinal lesions, cancer and muscle necrosis. 

Myoglobin: protein that binds to oxygen, usually found in muscle of vertebrae

Myristicin: mildly hallucinogenic toxin found in nutmeg 



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